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Apple is rolling out the red carpet for what could be a serious Netflix competitor.
The iPhone maker will broadcast an event from its Cupertino headquarters at 1 p.m. ET on Monday, March 25. Rumors have swirled around the tech world for months about Apple beefing up its services business. Here is what to expect.
Taking on Netflix
It’s widely believed Apple will reveal a Netflix-esque video streaming service. Original video content has not necessarily been Apple’s strong suit over the years, but with big tech competitors like Amazon making moves in the space, Apple is expected to follow suit.
In case it wasn’t obvious enough already, Apple announced the event by declaring “it’s show time.”
From the look of things, Apple will launch its currently unnamed streaming service with a powerful lineup of celebrity talent. Steven Spielberg, M. Night Shyamalan, Kristen Wiig, and Jennifer Aniston were just a few of the names linked to Apple’s service when it was reported early last year.
A few of the celebrities — including Reese Witherspoon and JJ Abrams — were invited to the event, according to Bloomberg. That would make it a much more star-studded affair than the usual Apple event.
All the news in one place
Of course, video streaming isn’t the only thing Apple is reportedly working on. It sounds like Apple wants to take advantage of the popularity of its Apple News app with a news-focused paid subscription service. Essentially, users could pay a monthly fee to get access to exclusive Apple News content from third-party publishers. Recently, the New York Times reported that the Wall Street Journal would be one of those publishers.
The monthly fee could remove paywalls from news outlets that otherwise make you pay for content. Apple boasted back in January that Apple News had 85 million active users, which makes sense considering the app comes pre-installed on Apple devices and is free to use.
These two services will theoretically live alongside Apple Music, but Apple could bundle all of them together, too. The all-in-one subscription package would be Apple’s answer to Amazon Prime. One big difference is Apple might let people subscribe to just the video streaming service or just the news service if they don’t want the rest.
It’s not yet clear how much Apple will charge for all of this. CNBC reported last year that Apple would give away its original content for free to Apple device owners. Netflix charges $12.99 per month for its HD package while Prime is $119 per year, so Apple might stick to that price range for its services.
What about hardware?
Just about the only thing Apple fans shouldn’t expect at the event is big hardware announcements. Apple actually got that out of the way a week ahead of time by launching two new iPad models on Monday. The new iPad Air and iPad mini tablets have been upgraded with Apple Pencil support and the same chips that power the iPhone XS and XS Max.
The fact that Apple took care of those launches a week in advance could be a dead giveaway that the Cupertino event will focus on services. Between Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime and the upcoming Disney streaming service, it will be interesting to see if Apple’s alternative can compete — or if it gets left in the dust.